A disproportionately large number of bad and minority students were not in schools for assessments this fall, complicating efforts to measure the pandemic’s effects on probably the most most vulnerable students, a not-for-profit company that administers standardized testing said Tuesday.
Overall, NWEA’s fall assessments showed elementary and middle school students have fallen measurably at the back of in math, while most seem to be progressing at a normal pace in reading since schools were forced to hastily near in March and pickup online.
The analysis of data from almost 4.4 million US students in grades 3-8 represents one of the crucial first remarkable measures of the pandemic’s impacts on learning.
But researchers at NWEA, whose MAP Growth assessments are supposed to measure student proficiency, caution they could also be underestimating the effects on minority and economically deprived groups.
Those students made up a remarkable portion of the more or less 1 in 4 students who tested in 2019 but were lacking from 2020 testing.
NWEA said they may have opted out of the assessments, which have been provided in-person and remotely, because they lacked dependable technology or stopped going to school.
“Provided we’ve also seen school district reports of higher levels of absenteeism in many different school districts, this is something to in point of fact be concerned approximately,” researcher Megan Kuhfeld said on a call with reporters.
The NWEA findings show that, in comparison to final year, students scored an average of 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math, with students in grades three, four and five experiencing the largest drops.
English language arts scores were in large part the same as final year. NWEA Chief Executive Chris Minnich pointed to the sequential nature of math, where one year’s skills — or deficits — carry over into the next year.
“The challenge around mathematics is an acute one, and it’s something we’re going to be dealing with even after we get back in school,” he said.
NWEA compared grade-level performance on the 2019 and 2020 tests. It also analyzed student growth over the years, based on how individual students did on assessments provided shortly before schools closed and those provided this fall.
Both measures indicated that students are advancing in math, but not as unexpectedly as in a typical year. The findings confirm expectations that students are losing ground all through the pandemic, but show those losses aren’t as great as projections made in spring that were based in part on typical “summer slide” learning losses.
A November outline by Renaissance Learning Inc., based by itself standardized testing, in a similar fashion found troubling setbacks in math and lesser reading losses.
The Renaissance Learning analysis looked at results from 5 million students in grades 1-8 who took Star Early Literacy reading or math assessments in fall 2019 and 2020. It found students of all grades were performing below expectations in math at the beginning of the school year, with some grades 12 or more weeks at the back of.
Black, Hispanic, American Indian and students in schools serving in large part low-income families fared worse but the pandemic so far hasn’t widened existing achievement gaps, the Renaissance outline said.
NWEA said that while it saw some differences by racial and ethnic groups emerging in its data, it used to be too early to attract conclusions.
Andre Pecina, assistant superintendent of student products and services at Golden Plains Unified School District in San Joaquin, California, said his district has scrambled to stem learning loss by issuing devices to all of its students, but the district continues to struggle with connectivity for students at home.
Students who are in most cases 1.5 grades at the back of are now two grades at the back of, he said.
“We’ve in point of fact just gone back to the basics where we’re specializing in literacy and math. That’s all we do,” Pecina said.
“I feel like we’re trying our best,” he said. “Our students are busy, but it’s not optimal. The learning surroundings isn’t optimal.”
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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